Riccardo Bertani è un contadino di 88 anni che nel corso della sua vita ha imparato da autodidatta più di cento lingue. Ha redatto vocabolari di dialetti remoti e studiato lo sciamanesimo siberiano. Senza allontanarsi mai da casa sua. Com’è possibile?

Photo: ©Mattia Balsamini

“Fondo Librario Documentario Riccardo Bertani” recita la targa sulla porta. È una piccola casa di cemento a Caprara, una frazione di Campegine, un paese di seimila abitanti vicino a Reggio Emilia. Di fronte alla casa c’è un orto in cui spuntano zucchine, pomodori e lattughe. E poco più in là un’aia su cui un tempo hanno scorrazzato oche e galline.

Secondo un articolo che ho letto recentemente su un quotidiano nazionale, Riccardo Bertani è un contadino di 88 anni che nel corso della sua vita ha imparato da autodidatta più di cento lingue. Ha redatto vocabolari di dialetti remoti e…


“Did you know an anagram of ‘coronavirus’ is ‘carnivorous’?” my friend Marina wrote to me yesterday.

She is obsessed with anagrams. For my 35th birthday, she drew seven versions of me, each bearing an anagram of my name: Boriz Zaricomiz sporting short hair and a camo T-shirt, Ramiro Scibizzo with a handlebar mustache, and so on.

This time though, her wordplay is particularly accurate. This virus is indeed carnivorous. The animal, in this case, is us. Here in Italy, we are so terrified by this tiny predator that we have resorted to locking ourselves inside.

Marina and I have always…


Adriano Panatta (courtesy Fondazione FILA Museum)

If there were a United Nations of tennis, Italy’s seat would surely be occupied by Adriano Panatta. In his 14 years as a pro, Panatta won 10 titles, reached s number four in the world and was the only player to defeat Borg at the Roland Garros, which he did twice. Handsome, stylish, arrogant at times, in the 70s Panatta was the embodiment of the Italian archetype, both on and off the court.

“I’ve always been someone who tried to win the point, even when it meant taking big risks.” Panatta said. Such attitude allowed him to write the most…


A few years ago, the Sicilian town of Sutera found a renewed sense of purpose after it started welcoming migrant families. Now, Italy’s anti-immigration policies are threatening this new balance.

The town of Sutera. (Photo courtesy of Matteo de Mayda | Contrasto)

It’s late afternoon in the piazza of the small Sicilian town of Sutera. Outside the pharmacy, people have gathered to have a drink and discuss the news of the day. The scene is fairly impressive, considering it’s winter, and up until five years ago Sutera was just another ghost town in one of Italy’s most abandoned regions. With a population of just 1,500, most young people had moved away to study or find a job, with only the older generations staying behind to hold a rather hopeless fort. …


The training field of Hamar, the club from the town of Hreraverdi (Photo courtesy of Matteo de Mayda)

The sky over Reykjiavik is bright the day Vikingur plays Fylkir in its first home match of the 2018 Urvalsdeild, the Icelandic premier league. There are 1,500 people in attendance, all seated in one single stand. Local fans sit on the right; their opponents on the left. There are no fences between them. A dozen children lead the chants for Vikingur by beating their hands on a Coca Cola billboard. Right before the end of the first half, left winger Madsen scores a header. …


Un viaggio nella sede di Hallmark, colosso americano dei biglietti d’auguri e degli articoli da regalo, che per ispirare i suoi artisti ha accumulato nei decenni una delle collezioni d’arte contemporanea più rispettate d’America

Joe Houston con un’opera d’arte all’interno della Hallmark Art Collection (photo courtesy of Reed Young)

Kansas City, al confine tra Kansas e Missouri, è una città in cui difficilmente capirete per caso. Persa nelle praterie del Midwest americano, rispettivamente a 2000 e 2500 chilometri in linea d’aria da New York e Los Angeles, la sua attrazione principale è la salsa barbecue.

Data la distanza che la divide dal resto dell’America, forse era destino che diventasse la capitale mondiale delle greeting cards


If he wasn’t so publicly searching for it all the time, one could say that Stefan Sagmeister has reached a state of perfect happiness. The 55 year-old Austrian-born moved to New York in the nineties, worked for his idol Tibor Kalman, designed iconic album covers for Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones and developed a deeply personal style, which won him prestigious clients, widespread critical acclaim and the chance to travel the world to attend conferences in which he always comes across as the funny and outspoken teacher that everyone would want to hang out with. Five years ago he…


Bill Cosby è cambiato dai tempi in cui lo vedevo tutti i giorni sulla Tv a tubo catodico dei miei genitori: ora ha la barba poco curata, i capelli bianchi rasati e qualche macchia sulla pelle, un occhio vitreo e l’altro semichiuso, il passo incerto, un broncio schifato perennemente appeso su quel volto che negli anni Ottanta sprizzava intelligenza e ironia diabolica. …


The Talking Hands collective in Treviso, Italy, May 2017. (Matteo de Mayda)

Thirty years ago, a visitor walking into the yard of Caserma Piave, a former army barracks in Treviso, Italy, would cross paths with Italian soldiers. Today, the same area is a bustling space in which a few dozen Africans go back and forth between a handful of tables, each busy painting chairs, embroidering colorful cushions or stitching grocery bags made of fishing rope.

This is Talking Hands, a migrant-run design workshop where asylum seekers make and sell furniture, embroidery and textiles. Similar initiatives are popping up around Europe; Green Light in Wien and Venice and Cucula in Berlin are two…


Dear Runkeeper,

Yes, I am feeling tired or down. And no, I won’t run this weekend. Instead I’ll be spread on my sofa, eating bacon and eggs, drinking a beer or five, watching Youtubes like “Best Slam Dunks of All Times” and contemplating the futility of human existence. I might even get bedsores and, honestly, be ok with it.

Oh, please, spare me the whole “I’m disappointed”, “I thought we had a deal” act.

After all, you know exactly how much distance I covered in the past three months: 23 miles, 7.3 periodical per month, divided per 5 runs in…

Cosimo Bizzarri

Freelance Writer and Editor, Design teacher. Former Executive Editor at @colorsmagazine, Writing Department Coordinator at @fabrica.

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